New England lawmakers are reacting to allegations that Democratic Sen. Al Franken forcibly kissed and groped a radio host while on a USO tour in 2006 after the woman published an article with a shocking photo.
The lawmakers, many of them Democrats themselves, have expressed their anger at Franken's actions more than a decade ago, before the comedian-turned-senator was elected.
"This type of conduct is completely unacceptable and must be taken extremely seriously," New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan said in a statement. "Actions like that weren't funny then and they aren't funny now, and I fully support an Ethics Committee investigation."
Calling Franken's reported behavior "unacceptable and deeply disappointing," Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she was glad the Minnesota senator has agreed to cooperate with an investigation.
"Women who come forward are brave and deserve to be respected. We're not going to fix the problems of sexual harassment and assault until men take responsibility for their actions and change their behavior," Warren said in a statement.
The Bay State's junior senator, Ed Markey, also called for an investigation into the allegations.
"We must also ensure that people throughout our country can come forward, without judgement or reprisal, if they have been subject to inappropriate behavior," he tweeted.
Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse also called for a thorough investigation by the ethics committee.
"Allegations of sexual assault or harassment by any member of Congress, like those against Senator Fraken, must be taken seriously and investigated fully by the Ethics Committee," he wrote on Twitter.
Fellow Ocean State Sen. Jack Reed said Franken's accuser had "courage" to come forward, adding that "she deserves to be heard, believed and treated with respect.
"Sexual harassment and sexual assault are unacceptable and must not be tolerated. Period," he said.
In an article published on KABC radio Thursday, radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden said Franken kissed her against her will and later groped her while she was asleep on a USO tour. The article included a photo of Franken putting his hands over her chest while she was asleep on a plane.
Franken has issued several statements of apology since the allegations emerged Thursday morning. Tweeden accepted the apologies at a news conference, where she said she wanted to come forward with her story after being empowered by other women in politics sharing their stories.
Meanwhile, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have agreed to launch an Ethics Committee investigation to look into the allegations.